Paris tries new campus reforms

The French government yesterday announced a "rolling reform" of its much-criticised higher education sector, intended to reduce the drop-out and failure rate, improve access to higher education and make better use of funds.

The Education Minister, Francois Bayrou, set out the principles of the changes in a speech to students and politicians in the Sorbonne, in Paris.

Among the reforms are proposed improvements to the student grant to take greater account of individual and family circumstances, attempts to better match students and courses and a restructuring of university appointments and the academic career ladder to reduce the number of unemployed PhDs and doctoral candidates. However, no reforms will be introduced until the academic year 1997-98 at the earliest.

Any form of selection for higher education has been shelved. But more information is to be supplied to pupils about the failure rate on courses and employment prospects, in the hope that their choice of subjects and universities will be better informed.

Student numbers in France have almost doubled over the past decade, with the only formal qualification required for a university place being the Baccalaureat, an approximate equivalent to A-levels. University facilities are overcrowded and often poorly maintained, even at the Sorbonne. The drop-out rate has risen to 20 per cent in the first year, and the failure rate after four or five years approaches 50 per cent in some technological disciplines.

Tackling the education system has been a political hot potato for French governments. In the past five years alone, four attempts at reform - the introduction of selection for higher education, changes in the grant system, provision for private schools and a further attempt at higher-education reform - have been abandoned after resistance by students and teachers.

Last autumn, protests against student overcrowding and shortages of teachers and facilities were halted only when Mr Bayrou was given more funds to fill empty posts, improve libraries and laboratories and set up a system of special envoys to all universities to examine the problems.

Jacques Chirac set the overhaul of French education as a priority for his presidency more than a year ago. He even had the constitution amended to provide for a promised referendum on the subject. By the first anniversary of his presidency last month, however, neither the reform nor the referendum had appeared, and Mr Chirac was driven to criticise Mr Bayrou by name for the apparent slowness with which his ministry was moving.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum